Hajia Halima Ben Umar is the Founder and Executive Director, Women in Media and Communications Initiative, Kano.

Would you say you are satisfied with the measures put in place by the Federal Government in handling the spread of COVID-19?

At the federal level to some extent yes I am comfortable, but there are some issues here and there but overall yes. At the state level, I am not really happy with the way things are going. This is my view, I think there is a lot of gap in how the state governor and people in Kano are looking at Covid-19. I am really not satisfied with the way we are conducting ourselves and the way we are handling the Covid-19.

Are there measure you think they should take that they are not taking

For instance, during the lockdown, the government are supposed to go round maybe house to house giving out food supplies and so on. This is something that should have been going on and should have been happening such that Kano would have been saturated by now with palliatives.

Are there measure you think they should take that they are not taking

For instance, during the lockdown, the government are supposed to go round maybe house to house giving out food supplies and so on. This is something that should have been going on and should have been happening such that Kano would have been saturated by now with palliatives.

After the lockdown was eased, there was a stampede in Kano. There were so many people in the market, they were not observing social distancing and many people mingling, didn’t have mask and gloves on.

With the growing number of cases every day, how best do you think the Federal Government can check the pandemic spread?

Some of the deaths that Kano recorded are due to some other health challenges. The government needs to know exactly, the number of people affected by Covid-19 and those affected by other illnesses. Health officials are saying some people are dying from hypertension but the issue of Covid-19 has overshadowed some of the other intervention. This is why we are advocating that the government should not take away budget lines from the health budget so that hospitals can really look at these other issues. The deaths being recorded in Kano are not all due to Covid-19. NCDC needs to tell us how many are Covid-19 related, and how many are not covid-19 related so that at least we have some peace of mind because the rate at which people are dying in Kano is alarming.

As a gender advocate, policy advocate, politician, and a woman leader, how have you been able to mobilise resources in combating COVID-19?

We have been carrying out mass sensitization on TV and radio. This is being done under an umbrella I belong to known as the Kano Concerned Citizens’ Initiative. I have been part of at least 3 media programs on Radio and TV stations.  Under the Kano Concerned Citizens’ Initiative, we have been distributing a lot of masks, sanitizers and hand gloves to people.

We have always been looking at gender especially at the programs I have been attending. We look at gender specifically and the roles of women and men during this pandemic and how it affects the household. We have been sensitizing people about the implications of Covid-19

In your opinion, what should more women be doing differently to sit at the top and make decisions to drive change in response to COVID-19?

Like I said, what we have been doing and what some women have been doing is to take the leadership at home. Do not allow your husband to go to congregational prayers or your young ones to go out. We have also advised that women create activities for their young ones to do so that they don’t remain idle.

What proactive measures is your office putting in place to fight the spread of COVID-19?

We have been carrying out a lot of social media engagements, tweeting at influential people and sensitization of the public about Covid-19. We are targeting state government, commissioners and other influential people to look at the budget so that no line is cut out, and the government should pay more attention to these other health issues. If you look at Kano, they are paying more attention to Covid-19 and other illness are not getting the required attention. That is one of our concerns, we want other health issues to be properly looked into.

While the economic and social impacts on all citizens are severe, they are more so for women. Women also constitute a large percentage of the informal economy in Nigeria. How are you using your position to ensure that post COVID-19, do not have adverse effect on women more?

All the contributions we are giving in the fight against Covid-19 is centred around gender. Our advice is that women should stay safe, and ensure their families adhere to the hygiene guidelines, social distancing and all other guideline. The position of Women in Media is to ensure that women are adhering to the guidelines given by WHO. Even now there is so much crisis over the economic effect of the pandemic. What we are planning to do in collaboration with others is to look for ways to support women especially those with small business. With the stay at home order, women are not doing anything and they might have exhausted all the money from their small business. We are looking for how CBN can come in to support these women. This is the discussion we are having, and we have been given some forms, guidelines and links to make sure we secure something for these women especially after the lockdown. We have also been looking for ways to support PWDs, widows, and women with small business. We have a work plan, and we are working on a strategy to see what can be done after the pandemic.

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